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The need for extracurricular activities in schools
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The need for extracurricular activities in schools

In Ethiopia, education is considered to be an important aspect in every child’s life. However, what many forget is that education is much more than just studying and passing an exam. In some counties extracurricular activities are taken seriously. For instance, getting admission into Ivy League universities like Harvard, Yale or Columbia requires a good track record in extracurricular activities while in others miss the importance of it.

One university student reflected about his high school experience with The Reporter. Fedessa Aberra commented that pupils’ would have gotten smarter in a lesser timeframe  if there were more extracurricular activities including emotional intelligence but what has been done so far is institutionalize the thoughts of children into doing what they are ‘supposed to do’, he told The Reporter. “I wish more could be done by schools,” Fedessa said. During his time in high school, he felt that the system was very lacking. He expressed his frustration by saying “being confined in class narrowed our scopes.” Fedessa hopes this will change through time. 

This issue also includes how young people socialize in their community and how they spend their time. Imagine if a child grew up learning and participating in extracurricular activities then she/he would know his or her talent. Not everyone enjoys school and not everyone want to follow the path of becoming an engineer, doctor, teacher, or lawyer, but those extracurricular activities could guide a child into understanding what interests they have like photography, art, music, athletics, drama, poetry and many others.

Hilina, an English teacher at Mekrez Youth Academy, told The Reporter that the school had different extracurricular activities though the most common are art, drama, gender equality, sports and civic and ethics club.  She told The Reporter that 60-70 percent of the students participate in extracurricular activities. Students are motivated to participate in these activities because of the completions that they take part in against other schools. Hilina said that the school encourages the students to join extracurricular activities. She believes that extracurricular activities can help students understand their talents, exchange abilities as well as prevent students from spending their time in a toxic environment because these activities make them use their time effectively, so it decreases their chance of vulnerability to dangerous hobbies. “If the government and community give more focus to extracurricular activities, I believe it will be successful,” she told The Reporter.

Some schools have well-established clubs and extra-curricular activities. And one of them is Nativity Catholic Cathedral School.

“Cathedral school is one of the greatest schools in Ethiopia which is known for great learning and teaching processes and challenges students to work hard,” Nafiyad Argaw, student admin at the IT department of Nativity Catholic Cathedral School, told The Reporter. He noted that there are many extracurricular activities in the school. The school’s Basketball Club is most known, and the others include Cosmo Club (cosmic/space theories), Anti-Cancer, PASS (physics and astronomers space science), Robotics Club and more. “Since students are interested in learning new things almost 90 percent participate in these activities.” He also added that they encourage the students to join by showing them how the school helps them develop their skills for instance taking them to universities, robotics stations, taking part in tournaments in many schools and more. Nafiyad said that the school believes that extracurricular activities increases their abilities and helps them to think outside the box. According to him, the school’s student are successful because the school develops abilities like true leadership, teamwork, problem solving, public speaking.

Different extracurricular activities can help youngsters discover and develop their talents, passions and interests. This can lead to people growing up becoming more creative and effective. Extracurricular activities can help make the youth more creative and can help them stay away from toxic influence or bad environments. This has been proven by studies as well.

According to a study conducted by College of DuPage, the effects of extracurricular activities vary. One of the effects on education is behavior as it can teach students responsibility as well as higher self-esteem as they accomplish their tasks successfully. Secondly, it can create positive attitudes towards schools also leading to higher grade achievements. Thirdly, it can, to some extent, decrease school dropouts. In addition, it can be a positive aspect for students to be productive students and adults by teaching them leadership, teamwork, analytical thinking, problem solving and time management. Finally, it can impact social aspect of students because they meet people from different backgrounds resulting in becoming more culturally aware and less conformity to gender stereotypes.

From a student’s perspective, two friends, Arsema, a fifth grader who goes to Deborah School and Simen, a ninth grader who attends Safari Academy are engaged in extracurricular activities. Safari Academy, the most common activities are mini-media, health, gender equality, sport, charity and environment. Similar to Safari, Deborah Academy located in the same area has similar extracurricular activities, including health club, sports, art, language, gender and charity. Both students told The Reporter that environment club and charity club are more active when compared to other clubs. Arsema, who is a member of the health club, said that they only met with the participants once and they have not done anything after that. She also noted that it is a must to join an extracurricular club and it is done by raffling numbers. Similarly, Simen, who attends Safari Academy, is a member of the mini-media club though not much has been done to include all participants in the activities. In her school, you can choose to join whichever extracurricular activity you choose.  The main activity of the club is to exchange information and put on music during breaks and lunch hour. Though both students complained that not much activity is done with in the extracurricular clubs and so far they have had only one meeting with other club members and teachers in charge of the group.

Generally, extracurricular activities help students to improve their academic performance, better time management skills, develop sense of responsibility and create more opportunities. Consequently, leading them to become successful and responsible adults. So there is much more that needs to be done in regards to extracurricular activities by schools and government.

Contributed by Sesina Hailou